by Elise Partridge
University of Chicago Press, 2008
Paper: 978-0-226-64792-0 | Cloth: 978-0-226-64791-3 | eISBN: 978-0-226-64793-7
Library of Congress Classification PR9199.4.P373C47 2008
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.6

From Ways of Going
for Steve

Will it be like paragliding
gossamer takeoff, seedlike drifting down
into a sunlit, unexpected grove?

Or ski-jumping—headlong soaring,
ski-tips piercing clouds,
crystal revelations astonishing my goggles?

. . . . Skittery flicker of a glare-weary lizard
startled into the sheltering wings of a leaf,

rusting freighter with a brimming hold
shimmering onto a crimson edge. . . .

Sad rower pushed from shore,
I'll disappear like circles summoned
by an oar's dip.

However I burn through to the next atmosphere,
let your dear face be the last thing I see.

Whether writing poems about North American life and landscape; or love poems; or elegies for family and friends; or poems on serious, debilitating illness and the transformations it can effect—Elise Partridge offers in Chameleon Hours words forged by suffering and courage. Full of wit and empathy, Partridge’s poems draw inspiration from sources as whimsical as tortoises and pontoons, as poignant as a homeless woman taking shelter inside a post office on a winter night, and as deeply personal as her own cancer diagnosis at a young age. Chameleon Hours is a book about the rewards of being reminded of one’s own mortality and the lyric expression of life in all its intensity.
“In their ample, embracing, nuanced appetite for sensory experience, [Partridge’s] poems achieve an ardent, compassionate and unsentimental vision.”—Robert Pinsky, Washington Post
“Partridge’s impressive poems pursue a careful thinker’s yearning for abandon, a loyal friend and partner’s wish for change. Attentive to fact, to what she sees and knows, Partridge nonetheless makes space for what is wild, outside and within us—for the fears and the blanks of chemotherapy, for sharp variations within (and without) frames of metre and rhyme, and for the welcome consistencies of married love. She has learned detail-work, and patience, from Elizabeth Bishop, but she has made other virtues her own: riffs on familiar phrases open startling vistas and even her love poems get attractively practical. Hers is a welcome invitation: let’s listen in.”—Stephen Burt
“Reading Chameleon Hours, I find myself marveling at the luck of each heron, mosquito, field of Queen Anne’s Lace, each person, place, thing or circumstance in this beautiful book, to have Elise Partridge’s exquisite and precise attention. And how lucky we are to get to listen in as she offers each of them her flawless ear; the book is full of understated sonic gems like ‘a kickball straight into pink lilac.’ In ‘Chemo Side Effects: Memory,’ after describing ‘groping in the thicket’ for ‘the word I want . . . scrabbling like a squirrel on the oak’s far side,’ she tells us ‘I could always pull the gift / from the lucky-dip barrel; scoop the right jewel / from my dragon’s trove. . . .’ We of course already know this. It’s evident in every one of these poems.”—Jacqueline Osherow

Praise for Fielder’s Choice
“Partridge is a technical wizard for whom thinking and feeling are not separate activities. She is a hawk-like observer of the particular . . . many times ascending to pitch-perfect verse.”—Ken Babstock, Globe and Mail (Canada)

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